Warner Bros. has released the first trailer for the highly anticipated upcoming DC Comics adaptation Joker. The drama is a character-driven study of the famous Batman villain that stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, and is based on an idea hatched by co-writer and director Todd Phillips, whose previous films like The Hangover trilogy and War Dogs flirted with dark territory but never really went full drama. The idea was to create a one-off DC adaptation unconnected to other DC films like Batman v Superman or Wonder Woman, so this new Joker movie isn’t expected to tied into those movies.
This trailer is pretty impressive, and the Martin Scorsese influence is extremely prevalent. Not only is Taxi Driver clearly a direct inspiration for this take on the character, but also Scorsese’s film The King of Comedy—Robert De Niro is even in this Joker movie. This looks to be a dark, twisted drama about a troubled man who is continually beaten down until he decides to turn violent, and while I’m slightly wary it’s going to be too heavily influenced by Taxi Driver, I’m curious to see how Phillips differentiates this take. Moreover, Phoenix clearly transformed himself physically for the role, and one can’t help but wonder if that October release date could set the film up nicely for awards season notice. Assuming it has the goods, of course. Hey, Heath Ledger won the Oscar for playing The Joker, so why not Phoenix?
Check out the Joker trailer The film hits theaters on October 4th and also stars Zazie Beets, Marc Maron, Shea Whigham, Frances Conroy, Bill Camp, Brian Tyree Henry and Glenn Fleshler.